Weld smooth the cowl vents? - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 02:33 AM Thread Starter
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Weld smooth the cowl vents?

So my 66 coupe is at the body shop now getting some rust repair done. I appear to have a very small leak in the cowl vents, nothing crazy but some water is getting through. I can’t really afford to pull the whole cowl apart and replace the panels. But the car will be parked outside and driven regularly, even in the occasional California rain, so I need to do something.

I don’t love the look of the plastic covers, so I am thinking about just welding the vents closed and smoothing the cowl to keep water out. Obviously there could be a little water intrusion through the wiper arm holes, but I figure that would be minimal. I plan to use an aftermarket AC system that uses recirculating air, so I don’t see why I would need the vents...

Thoughts? Any reasons I shouldn’t do this? Would love to hear any ideas/opinions, especially from anyone that has done this.

Thanks!


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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 05:37 AM
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Please don't. It runs something in the appearance of the car, really hurts resale (it SCREAMS the car has MAJOR cowl and rust issues) and what if you DID decide to just open the floor vents, maybe even just the driver side, and enjoy that perfect time of year with the breeze blowing though the car with the windows down? At least the car's next caretaker may...
You can use something like Eastwood Rust Encapsulator or POR-15 to permanently seal and stop any rust in the cowl, even do the cowl hat inserts from below to prevent that tiny bit of water coming in.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 07:51 AM
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Tough call, but I agree that removing the vent will kill value and look horrible.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by ianellis View Post
I am thinking about just welding the vents closed and smoothing the cowl to keep water out. Any reasons I shouldn’t do this?
You mean besides the obvious ones?

Loss of windshield washer capability.
Loss of a nice flow of fresh air into the cabin without opening window(s).
That air is quiet and free, pull a handle for it.
Like mfc66 said, it would just scream there's a cowl problem.

I have those clear plexiglass covers and use them sometimes. I consider them a nice feature and keep a zippered canvas bag for 'em in the car.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 10:34 AM
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Not to mention, it probably won't fix the problem. Water will still find a way in, around the wipers, and on my '65, water kicked up by the tires found a way into the cowl.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 10:35 AM
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The leak and the intake vents are two separate issues; one is structural, the other is cosmetic. Fix the cowl properly so it won't leak regardless of what you do with the vents. Take lots of photos so you can prove the cowl is solid. Without proof of good restoration work, I always assume the cowl leaks.

The first few posts in this thread surprised me. I wasn't aware of any strong feelings about shaving the cowl vents. Frankly, I don't care one way or the other purely from the aesthetics angle. There are many other mods I dislike much more strongly. Shaving the vents is a relatively mundane body customization on a "mild" to "extreme" scale. It's time-consuming and non-trivial to reverse, but it doesn't leap at you with a casual glance like some things people do nowadays.

The strongest objective argument/theory I've heard against shaving the cowl vents is an increased risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. I don't lend too much credence to this idea myself. Noxious smells and CO poisoning while driving are unlikely issues with a well-maintained engine and exhaust. Especially with a PCV and EGR system in place.

I've also heard suggestions that a closed cowl causes an increased risk of mold and mildew in the cabin. I don't follow the logic, but I think a dry garage and a cracked window should avoid humidity problems. If your car lacks AC, then foggy windows may be an issue while driving. An open cowl vent won't help that anyway.

As you mentioned, the windshield wiper pivots allow water inside the cowl unless you install some type of seal. You might look at the mid 40s to early 50s cars to see how they dealt with sealing the wiper arms.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ianellis View Post
So my 66 coupe is at the body shop now getting some rust repair done. I appear to have a very small leak in the cowl vents, nothing crazy but some water is getting through. I can’t really afford to pull the whole cowl apart and replace the panels. But the car will be parked outside and driven regularly, even in the occasional California rain, so I need to do something.

I don’t love the look of the plastic covers, so I am thinking about just welding the vents closed and smoothing the cowl to keep water out. Obviously there could be a little water intrusion through the wiper arm holes, but I figure that would be minimal. I plan to use an aftermarket AC system that uses recirculating air, so I don’t see why I would need the vents...

Thoughts? Any reasons I shouldn’t do this? Would love to hear any ideas/opinions, especially from anyone that has done this.

Thanks!


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Ok...I am going to give some generally unpopular advice here:

IF you own a classic car that has rust issues, buy the tools and learn to weld. Hell, buy the tools and learn to do EVERYTHING on your own or be prepared to pay big money. If you have cowl rust issues you have rust issues all over the place that will need to be fixed. I replaced my cowl on my own(well, the lower cowl and refurbished the upper anyway) over the course of about 4 days. Its not a difficult process, though it is tedious. Classic cars are rustbuckets...its no surprise after 50 years, but rust is not difficult to fix...it does take time and some practice welding if you dont know how...and tools, but that is all.

What I DONT recommend is making unibody modifications that cant easily be undone, not unless you plan on keeping the car forever. When I was replacing my cowl I considered welding the vents shut myself...but like others have said, it would look bad, these cars were designed to be driven in the summer without AC...you lose a lot of that functionality without cowl vents... My vote is for fixing it right...until you can do so, use the ugly plastic vents and park your mustang facing downhill(water will pool around the cowl vents if you park facing uphill and maybe even flat...with the engine out, even that slight angle caused water to pool around my new vents when I was leak testing)
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 12:02 PM
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Wicked, I wouldn’t call that any sort of unpopular advise.

If the leak could be remedied by the plastic hat inserts I’d try that before I ruined the cowl. That could buy you some time, but remember it would be temporary band-aid until the correct repairs could be made. Learn to weld.... you’ll be glad you did and save money to boot!

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Last edited by 63BGT66; 10-04-2019 at 12:09 PM.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your comments so far. Changing the aesthetic has been the one thing that has caused me to hesitate, but I didn’t realize how unanimous the opposition would be. Good to know.

I would LOVE to learn to weld it myself, but given my schedule right now i don’t think it will happen. I have 4 kids under the age of 8, so between work, soccer, martial arts, baseball, etc... having enough time to learn to do body work is a pipe dream right now. I plan to do everything else myself, but not the body work. Unless there is anyone in Southern California area that want to come over and help me out?




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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ianellis View Post
Thank you everyone for your comments so far. Changing the aesthetic has been the one thing that has caused me to hesitate, but I didn’t realize how unanimous the opposition would be. Good to know.

I would LOVE to learn to weld it myself, but given my schedule right now i don’t think it will happen. I have 4 kids under the age of 8, so between work, soccer, martial arts, baseball, etc... having enough time to learn to do body work is a pipe dream right now. I plan to do everything else myself, but not the body work. Unless there is anyone in Southern California area that want to come over and help me out?




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It's not unanimous, they're just the vocal ones so far. It's a mod I am planning on doing even though my cowl is in great shape. It's a subtle mod that a large portion of people will not even notice. BUT I would not do it to cure a leaking cowl. I am going to run AC so those vents will be blocked off anyways. If you don't have the time to do the bodywork I don't see how you'll have time to do the rest.

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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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It's not unanimous, they're just the vocal ones so far. It's a mod I am planning on doing even though my cowl is in great shape. It's a subtle mod that a large portion of people will not even notice. BUT I would not do it to cure a leaking cowl. I am going to run AC so those vents will be blocked off anyways. If you don't have the time to do the bodywork I don't see how you'll have time to do the rest.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I don’t think I have time to LEARN how to weld and do bodywork. I would love to learn it, but since I would be learning on the fly via YouTube and maybe a local class or two... it may have to wait until a different stage in life. That type of work makes a big mess in the garage and I assume the learning curve would slow me way down - leaving a big, standing mess in the garage where my kids keep their stuff and even play.
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 03:06 PM
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So I had a very similar problem. Very small pin holes on both cowl hats. I wasn’t about to rip the cowl off an otherwise driver class car that I had no Intentions of repainting soon. So here is what I did. First I removed the seats, carpet, and heater box and fresh air vents. Both items needed rebuilding anyway. With them removed, I reached up and into the cowl hats with sand paper and sanded the surfaces as best I could. Then I took a wire wheel on a drill motor and cleaned every surface down to bare metal inside the cowl hats. Then I poured wax a grease remover down both sides of the cowl until it ran clear. Then I painted the inside of the cowl and under the dash with Eastwood’s internal frame rust encapsulator. Then I coated the inside seems of the both cowl hats with two thin coats of Eastwood’s rust encapsulator seam sealer. No leaks ever since. Is it the optimum solution...no. Did it work...for now.
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-04-2019, 08:46 PM
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It won't Kill the value. Ive seen a few that look nice but it does strike a person in the know that something is off. Casual fans might not even notice. Nice paint and a great driving car covers for many sins.

You should endeavor to see how bad the problem is. Bright lights and darkness on either side and see what shines through. Heater box out. There are "hats" in there that generally rust first and their seem sealer fails. The cowl itself it much better galvanized and might be fine as long as flora debris hasn't been allowed to to collect and fester is places. Cars that were always driven have the best chance. The cowl might not have any penetrations at all. You can replace the hats with plastic inserts for about $25.
Those and a good cleansing and coating it might go another 50 years.

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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 09:49 AM
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So my 66 coupe is at the body shop now getting some rust repair done. I appear to have a very small leak in the cowl vents, nothing crazy but some water is getting through. I can’t really afford to pull the whole cowl apart and replace the panels. But the car will be parked outside and driven regularly, even in the occasional California rain, so I need to do something.
You're fixing the wrong thing. The leaky cowl is what ruined the floors.

I don’t love the look of the plastic covers, so I am thinking about just welding the vents closed and smoothing the cowl to keep water out.
You're not supposed to drive the car with the cowl cap installed.


Obviously there could be a little water intrusion through the wiper arm holes, but I figure that would be minimal. I plan to use an aftermarket AC system that uses recirculating air, so I don’t see why I would need the vents...
A recirculating system does a very poor job of defogging the windshield, for one thing.


Thoughts? Any reasons I shouldn’t do this? Would love to hear any ideas/opinions, especially from anyone that has done this.
Having the top of the cowl properly welded shut, filled, smoothed, and painted would cost roughly the same as having it fixed.

A better choice would be to examine the problem. Is it a few pinholes or is the whole bottom rotted out?

If the latter, you have no choice but to fix it. The cowl is a structural part, joining the left and right side of the body together.

If the former, is it the bottom of the cowl, or the standpipes? For many years, the standard repair for that was plastic inserts, sealed in place. In my Dad's 68, it was just a few pinholes in those. I jacked up the right side of the car, plugged the drain, and filled the left side of the cowl with liquid undercoating, drained it, and repeated with the other side. It never leaked again.

Amateur restorer. Well, sometimes I have been paid for it. But not right now.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-05-2019, 10:13 AM
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Someone here on the forum has done this, and while the quality of the metal work is excellent, the visual IMO, is not that great. Since his cowl area is now filled it visually seems to lengthen the area between the hood and the windshield.

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